For those all who’ve regularly been reading this blog for the past couple years (all zero of you), you’ll know a few things about me. For those who haven’t been following along, well, let me fill you in. And then, once I get that background out of the way, we’re off to the races. (Here we go)
Axiom 1: The metrics by which an epistemic system is to be judged, are its explanatory power and its ability to make testable, repeatable predictions that reliably allow reality to be influenced in conformity with will.
“I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.” – The Book of Lies
“I think Martin Luther correctly distinguished between what he called the magisterial and ministerial uses of reason. The magisterial use of reason occurs when reason stands over and above the gospel like a magistrate and judges it on the basis of argument and evidence. The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason submits to and serves the gospel…. Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter.” – William Lane Craig
Craig’s entire schtick is that it is reasonable to have faith in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity that calls for genocide; that that deity gives rules for the proper care and beating of slaves; that that deity created humans without the knowledge of good and evil, and then punished all humans, forever, because the first humans did something that was evil… which god had specifically and deliberately made it impossible for Adam and Eve to know. Besides the inherent absurdity of trying to rebrand faith from “belief without evidence”, to some strange alchemical modification of knowledge, there is the utter absurdity of Craig’s deliberate, patent, and freely confessed intellectual dishonesty.
I have, previously, discussed how absolute ontological certainly is precluded by the structure and nature of knowledge. I also recently engaged in a public debate that touched on the nature of the null hypothesis and reasonable beliefs. My opponent from that debate recently asked me to clarify my position on the issue of falsifiability. Specifically, the request was:
[W]hat is ‘falsifiability’? You seem to take it to mean that a proposition yields predictions which can then be compared to empirical evidence and shown to be false. Is that correct?
My response was that that statement was “Pretty much” accurate, but that I’d need to write up a blog post “since the answer is somewhat lengthy.” Dr. Chenvi’s followup question was:
[H]ow that definition is applied to beliefs like “There are no transcendental truths” or “We cannot have real knowledge of deep reality” or “We should only accept claims based on evidence”, or “the external universe actually exists”, etc… None of these claims are falsifiable, on the basis of your definition. So whatever statements you make about whether or not we should believe ‘unfalsifiable’ claims should wrestle with statements like these.
The response will, by necessity, be a bit lengthy. I also don’t think that all of the above statements are necessarily accurate quotes or paraphrases, so I’ll do my best to address specifics. If anybody disagrees on the accuracy of a quote, please let me know in the comments. In a nutshell, my argument is not a metaphysical statement on the nature of being, but a razor designed to winnow epistemic systems with the metric of objective reality.
My first video-cast debate.
I’m sorry the sound for my AC was so thoroughly awful. (Did kinda like that my lips blurred on film, that was kinda cool.) Here’s the text for my AC, and I’ll see if I can’t find the time to write up a transcript one of these days.
debate case and counter cases
Philosophical principles, much like scientific laws, are descriptive, not prescriptive. But where scientific laws are subject to testing, refinement, and falsification, philosophical principles have no objective and effective winnowing process. The law that heavier objects fell faster than lighter ones gave way to Vf= a t^2 ; Newton’s law of universal gravitation gave way to spacetime; a deterministic, mechanistic cosmos gave way to a probabilistic, intuition-shattering sea of information. What objective tests, then, beyond logical consistency, do we have for our philosophical presuppositions about the absolute, ultimate nature of reality?
And to then use those presupposed principles to prove new presuppostions, seems, well, preposterously presumptuous .
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist)